Twitter have introduced a new “Age Screening” feature that will dictate whether or not users can follow registered adult brands such as those belonging to alcoholic beverage companies.
If you try to follow an account that has opted in to the Age Screening system, you’ll be required to submit your age in order to see tweets from that user in your stream. However, if you are already following a user that requires new followers to verify their age, nothing will happen.
I just tried this with American beer brand Coors Light (@CoorsLight). Within seconds of clicking ‘Follow’, I received an email alerting me to a DM from CoorsLight:
The link took me to the age verification screen where I had to input my date of birth:
Once it knew that I was over the legal drinking age (I’m mid-late 20s, we’ll leave it at that!), I was then taken back to @CoorsLight’s Twitter homepage.
The idea of Age Screening came after alcohol brands requested that Twitter add a feature to protect them from legal scrutiny, and so Buddy Media built the product in partnership with Twitter. Other brands that have opted in to this feature include Jack Daniels Honey and Jim Beam’s Skinny Girl margarita. Strangely enough this filtering mechanism does not yet apply to gambling or pharmaceuticals that would otherwise be unavailable to minors if being sold/promoted in a shop.
But what is perhaps stranger, is the fact that Twitter just believes whatever age you tell it you are. At present there is no cross checking to ensure that you are however old you say you are. As Guy Yalif at Twitter explains: “We are trusting users to input their valid birth date. We have no plans to self identiy their valid birthdate or cross refence this with third-party data.”
However, short of asking web users to submit their passport details, credit card information, National Insurance or Social Security numbers, there isn’t a great deal more the likes of Twitter and Facebook can do to ensure their users adhere to the relative age restrictions put in place.
At least this is a step in the right direction and may just be enough to deter many users from lying about their age in order to gain access to inappropriate materials.